"Hey, Rita...good news! I forwarded your name as a recommendation for a trainer at ****** on a big project that is coming up. Her email is attached for more information." It was from Nancy, a friend, and fellow road warrior facilitator/trainer/curriculum designer who I worked with on many projects. Thanking Nancy for the recommendation and then reading the details, I noticed that the woman who had sent the email had a line at the bottom that read..."If you know of any others who are on the younger, please let me know." This was when I was about 45 years old!
I wasn't angry at all. I remember it so clearly because it was the very first time anyone was looking at my age as a qualifier instead of my results or performance.
I was deep into conversation with a gentleman just last week about the importance of how we make a living and how we live our lives.
After telling him about the many career paths I had chosen in my 30+ years dancing through life, he asked me what I meant by the word "ageism". Hmmm. The simplest way I could explain it is that it's like racism or sexism, but involves an attitude or belief about one's age. "isms" can be tough on everyone.
Here is my take of ageism, from a woman "of a certain age" who still has dreams. 3 Strategies for looking at aging for people of all ages.
1. Check Your Own Perspective - Having a "birds' eye view" allows you to look at the big picture, the whole of something, from far enough away that you can gather information from all angles and see it as part of a whole. A young man of 20 can feel ageism as sharply as a 75-year-old man. It happens often at work when new ideas and energy enter an established traditional environment. There can be fireworks and conflict or fantasy and co-creation if all parties see and utilize the best that both players have to offer.
Somewhere, somehow we have to learn that there is value in life experiences, as well as untested optimism.
So when I hear a woman of 35 talk about ageism as if she were 65, I have to check my own perspectives. If she lives in Hollywood, 35 can be considered old. If her mother died at 40 she might believe her time is limited. If she has a physical job that might be getting harder for her to handle, she may feel the attitudes of ageism. Or, she's feeling old when she says her daughter's age out loud. Been there!
Instead of being offended or defensive, let's try being open-minded and giving people the benefit of the doubt. We can reframe how we think and judge - it's a decision and a thought - and both can be changed.
2. Hair Color & Botox - I think Oprah said it years ago...Hair Color has changed how we age! Years ago women had few choices when the gray arrived, and we with dark hair began to look like raccoons. My friend, Shirley makes me laugh. She is so real and honest and direct. On her choice a while back to let it all go gray, it lasted one week. She looked in a mirror one day at a store and says her reflection scared her to the point of saying "Who is that!!!" She immediately called her stylist and made an appointment for color! She felt better and that is enough. Her internal Shirley was not gray, and she wanted her external Shirley to match that energy. Good for you, my friend!
If you want botox, get botox. If you don't want to go that path, don't. Make certain you are doing anything you do... because it is right for YOU and you want to do it. Selfie filters help, too! Check it out.
3. Look At The Alternative - Years ago I was at my doctor's office, answering all the same questions but not liking some of the answers that time around. I mentioned something about getting older. He listened for a while and quietly said, "Isn't that the goal?" That question stopped me dead in my tracks (excuse the pun).
My father passed at 47 years young - I was 13 years old. Time and social pressure mix us up and make us uncertain, about who we are and what's important to us. The old saying, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself" sure says volumes, doesn't it? But no one knows how long we have or our odds of beating disease and misfortune. It's all only educated guesses.
My advice is to know thyself well, choose wisely your companions, and treat kindly those you hold dear. Be adventurous and have some fun. Most of all - do what gives you the Yummy Giggles and makes you happy.
Who Are You?